It is sometimes the case that people say to me they just want to know the strategies that will make them feel better. While this makes sense – who wants to let their suffering drag out? – unfortunately, dealing with mental health problems isn’t as easy as just trying one or two things and experiencing immediate relief. From my experience, an individual’s mental health generally deteriorates over some time, they have their own ways of keeping their head above water for a while, and we are often able to endure quite a lot before we seek help. As a result, the factors that perpetuate our difficulties are often entwined, engrained, and hard to spot, which can make them tricky to change all on our own steam.
That all sounds pretty doom and gloom. However, I’m very happy to share with you some things that can be helpful to provide relief.
- Exercise. When we get our heart rate up and get ourselves puffing and panting, our body responds positively. It can be effortful to create time and find the energy, but ideally we want to have 30 minutes of fairly strenuous exercise on a regular basis. Furthermore, being more active actually gives you more energy.
- Eating healthy. Our gut health plays an important role in how we feel, so it’s important to have a balanced diet. This doesn’t necessarily mean saying goodbye to the odd treat, it just means ensuring everything is in moderation.
- Take time out. A common problem is that we don’t prioritise ourselves. Whether there is a hobby we have been neglecting, people that we want to catch up with, or if we are struggling to have some time to ourselves, we often need to schedule in time to do the things we want to do.
- Identify your stressors. Write them down or talk to someone about the problems that are on your plate. Getting them out of your mind can shift your perspective, make room for problem solving those issues that can be changed, help you prioritise things, and help with organising what needs to be done and how to get it done.
Perhaps you already do these things and are still struggling, or perhaps you are struggling to know where to start, in which case I recommend seeking professional support. Changing the way we respond to situations, altering our habits, and varying the way we think about things requires practice and perseverance. Consequently, its best to know that you are investing your energy into the correct strategies to create the change that you want. A trained psychologist is able to assess the factors that cause and continue mental health problems. From there they can develop a treatment plan targeting your areas of need, teach you the necessary strategies, and support you through implementing the changes.